Started by a team of budding engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the year 2013, NuTonomy aims at solving one of the most challenging problems in today’s world: urban driving for autonomous cars. This self-driven car startup based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts is backed by Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Company and also by the Government of Singapore. While major players like Uber and Google are still experimenting their options to launch Autonomous cars, this small company has beat them all by launching the first autonomous Taxi service in Singapore during August this year.
Initial rounds of testing:
When the founders Karl Lagnemma (CEO) and Emilion Frazzoli (CTO) came up with idea of making fully autonomous cars, they realized that it will be difficult to experiment their vehicles in the busy streets of Boston or Silicon Valley. Hence they were looking for suitable places where it will be possible to conduct tests without impacting the public. After considering various places, they finally opted for Singapore since it’s a small and well-organized city with proper traffic rules. They started with the vision to develop fully autonomous Taxi service and hoping for commercial launch in 2018.
NuTonomy started testing their software on autonomous cards at the beginning of 2016 and the initial models they used to experiment their software was Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Though their product is still in research and development phase, they have already launched their pilot project of autonomous Taxi service in Singapore during August 2016. They raised $3.6 million in funding last year from various investors such as Signal Ventures, Samsung Ventures and Fontinalis Partners.
They also received their $16 million Series-A funding during May this year from various high-profile investors including the Singapore Economic development board. CEO Karl Lagnemma quoted that they received interests from investors in every corner of the globe. They are presently in talks with various companies including Didi Chuxing and Temasek Holding Pte, which is a Singapore-based investment company that has funded startups like Airbnb etc. So far they have raised total of $20 million and funding and they are looking for investors who share their strategic vision and who are keen towards the idea of building self-driving cars.
World’s First Autonomous Taxi Service:
The company invited a group of users to download their nuTonomy App and try free ride with their “robo-taxi” service in hi-tech business district of western Singapore. They have currently deployed Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars along with proprietary software for the “robo-taxi” service. However, this is still a pilot project with access to limited users who are invited to try their service for free. They are hoping to launch a full-fledged commercial service by the year 2018. They are definitely trying to make history and this will change how modern cities are built as we are moving towards completely digital era.
The engineers at NuTonomy have designed powerful algorithms based on complex logic to decide the paths based on the motion, speed and maneuverability. The cars will have sensors fitted at various places to determine the movement of vehicles and people around it and will decide the driving speed automatically. They have developed the most advanced software to guide the autonomous car through the crowded streets of Singapore without impacting the public.
They are also discussing the options to expand in various cities like Dubai and London who are interested in deploying self-driven cars in future and plan to expand their services across Asia. NuTonomy has also partnered with major automobile makers like Jaguar Land Rover.